Harvard is allowing students to apply for admission next year without submitting SAT or ACT scores, the school announced on Monday. The updated policy on standardized tests comes in response to the pandemic, which "has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds," it says on its website.
The Ivy League college says the temporary change should address the challenges presented by the pandemic, which greatly altered life as we knew it. High school students missed out on milestones like proms and graduations this year, and academic requirements for many were also greatly affected.
Standardized tests are just one factor in Harvard's "whole-person admissions process," the school says. "Accomplishments in and out of the classroom during the high school years – including community involvement, employment, and help given to students' families are considered as part of our process."
"However, students who find themselves limited in the activities they can pursue due to the current coronavirus outbreak will not be disadvantaged as a result, nor will students who are only able to present pass/fail grades or other similar marks on their transcripts this spring," the policy continues.
So, students who are applying for the class of 2025 will be considered based on what is presented in their application – not what is missing, according to Harvard.
Applicants are "encouraged to send whatever materials they believe would convey their accomplishments in secondary school and their promise for the future," Harvard says.
The school's updated admissions policy also includes new information for international applicants and those applying under its early action program. Harvard also addressed financial aid, saying its "revolutionary financial aid program will not be compromised in any way."
"The majority of Harvard students receive need-based financial aid – and loans are not required," Harvard says. "Our office stands ready to help, and students can use our net price calculator to get an estimate of the aid their family would receive."
Some other colleges have already done away with standardized text scores, including the University of California system, whichthat for the next four years applicants don't need to take the SAT or ACT to be considered for admission.